The dog-like Spot robot plays a role in scaring away wild animals

Boston Dynamics / Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics’ dog-like robot Spot is a highly agile machine that for the past four years has been available for various industries to try out as a robotic co-worker.

Spot has been used by Ford to scan changes to the layout of one of its facilities, and has also been used to perform various tasks on oil and gas production vessels in Norway.

However, this latest implementation is not aimed at improving workplace efficiency, but rather aims to scare away local wildlife.

Officials at Fairbanks International Airport in Alaska hope the sighting of the robot, named Aurora, will scare away birds and other creatures if it gets too close to the airport’s land, especially the runway. Bird strikes on aircraft engines are a serious safety concern for airport operators, with existing prevention methods including loud noises such as alarms and sirens, while efforts are also being made to make the surrounding environment less hospitable to wildlife.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities recently shared short videos on Instagram showcased its new hires, which it said would “improve and improve airport safety and operations.”

The aurora will be deployed in autumn when the migratory bird season begins, i.e Anchorage Daily News reported, although officials are also interested in seeing how animals such as moose and bears react to the robot. To make Aurora more effective, a disguise will be placed on the robot to resemble a coyote or fox.

“The sole purpose of this is to act as a predator, and allow us to perform that response on wildlife without having to use other means,” Ryan Marlow, a program manager at the Alaska Department of Transportation, said recently. If Aurora is successful at deterring wildlife, officials will consider sending additional robots to other airports in the region.

But what if it fails? In this case, airports may want to consider the more frightening robots used in some parts of Japan to scare bears away from villages and towns. The only problem is, it’s so scary that it could scare airport passengers too.

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